A Reliable Witness?
In the June issue, a painting that runs with Norman C. Delaney’s article, “The Firing Here Became Continual,” shows the CSS Alabama flying the Confederate First National Flag from the peak and mizzen gaff. The text describes a white or mostly white flag, which would have been the Confederate Second National. The Second National would have been flying from Alabama on that day.
The article is based on the testimony of a deserter. While the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion would be the best source of historical information, articles in the New York Herald and the words of a disgruntled sailor are suspect.
Your previous article by Robert F. Browning on what Rear Admiral David Farragut may or may not have said at Mobile Bay (“Damn the Torpedoes,” August 2014) is a good example of unreliable accounts being taken as history.
Dr. Delaney responds: